Art Glossary: What Is An Artist Proof?

What Is An Artist Proof? Helping You Understand Art Collection

Sam Toft artist proof


Whether you buy art often or have found yourself browsing galleries for fun, there are a number of terms used on gallery labels which can be confusing.

Alongside ‘Original’ and ‘Limited Edition’, a gallery label may denote ‘Artist Proof’ less often - but what does it mean?


Artist Proofs - the Connoisseur’s Choice?

What is an Artist Proof (AP)?

An artist will create their original piece choosing the perfect materials and style, making a unique work to express their vision.

Creating limited edition prints of a piece makes it more widely available and allowing a greater audience to enjoy it. These prints are created using specialist scanners and printers at incredibly high quality and in limited batches to ensure their quality, each will be numbered and signed by the artist with a certificate of authenticity.

Between these two developments is where the artist proof is created.

From the scan of the original, creating prints is a process which involves care and attention to develop the right colours and texture. Limited Edition prints can only be made when the artist is happy with the prints being created; proofs are made so the artist can judge the quality of these prints, with the artist proofs being the set of proofs the artist has approved.

Often artist proof prints are larger than standard limited editions - sometimes even the same size as an original - allowing the artist to ensure the quality of each detail and achieving a much closer representation of the original work.

How many are made?

There is no guarantee on the number of artist proofs to be created. There is, however, a rule that the number of artist proofs will be no more than 10% of the final number in the limited edition run - so, for a limited edition run of 200 prints there will be no more than 20 artist proofs.



How do you recognise an artist’s proof?

Artist proofs will be signed, often with the additional tag AP alongside a number/batch. The numbering denotes which of the artist proofs this is and how many there are in the batch, e.g. a print numbered 3/20 would be the third print of a run of 20.

Each artist proof print will also have a certificate of authenticity.

What’s the value of an artist’s proof?

There are - as with any art work - a number of factors which will affect its value for sale.

  • Artist proofs a restricted number of a limited edition run ensuring scarcity. 
  • The pieces are often larger, enhancing the detail of the piece and further elevating their quality.
  • It is quite common for artist proofs to be gifted to the artist and never sold.

For these reasons an artist’s proof will usually have a higher monetary value than a limited edition piece.


At the Rose Gallery we are pleased to be able to offer our customers something special, and sometimes this is an artist's proof. 

We currently have access to artist proof numbers 1-4 on the new Sam Toft collection - wonderful works full of character and charm. You can find out more about Sam Toft’s work here and get in touch if you’re interested in these delightful pieces.

Do come and visit us in the gallery, we’d love to see you.

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